Chief Justice Giuseppe Mifsud Bonnici

1930 -


Chief Justice  from 1990 - 1995  


Giuseppe Mifsud Bonnici was born in Cospicua, Malta, on July 17, 1930. He began his studies at the University of Malta from where, in 1958, he became Doctor of Law. Before that, in 1955, he was Malta's chess champion. After graduating as a lawyer, he continued his studies in Rome at the Gregorio del Vecchio Institute of the Sapienza University of Rome. He began teaching philosophy of law at the University of Malta in 1966, and continued teaching for three decades, right up to his retirement in 1995. He was appointed Professor of the Philosophy of Law in 1988.

Also in 1988 Mifsud Bonnici was appointed Judge of the Maltese Superior Courts. Two years later, in 1990, he was made Chief Justice, and President of the Courts of Appeal and President of the Constitutional Court, offices he held up till his retirement in 1995. Meantime, in 1992, he served as Judge of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, a service he maintained until 1998. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies of London, England.


Philosophically, Mifsud Bonnici is an adherent of the Aristotelian-Thomistic school of Scholasticism. Most of his published studies deal with legal matters, including fundamental human rights and freedoms. Rather technical in nature, these publications do not interest philosophy directly.

Of a different nature is his 178-page book, co-authored with Mark A. Sammut, Il-Ligi, il-Morali u r-Raguni (Law, Morality and Reason), published in 2008 (Ius Melitae). The composition is basically a sort of dialogue between the two authors (alternatively, it is an interview with Mifsud Bonnici). It is divided  into five main parts dealing with a number of themes, from purely legal technicalities to philosophical topics. Though the style is quite loose and colloquial - with the discussion sometimes drifting into mere side observations - philosophical arguments are proposed for a number of subjects, such as bioethics, religion, matrimony (including same-sex marriage), freedom of expression, the administration of justice, and the like.